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Undoing misconceptions

Filed on January 25, 2015

CALLS FOR coexistence and compassion are always welcome. In an era when the media hype, especially in the West, is all about furthering the controversial debate on clash of civilisations, the appeal to examine Islam first hand rather than believing in prejudiced views is a promising development.

 Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei’s open letter to the youth in West humbly urging them to analyse and interpret teachings of the great religion on their own is a departure from the trend of imposing preconceived notions on believers of other faiths. Khamenei’s simple words are likely to have a touching impact on the people in the West who are literally confused as to whom to believe and what to ask for while dealing with the rising menace of extremism under the banners of so-called militant groups. He asked the Western youth to gain a “proper, correct and unbiased understanding of Islam” and to form their own opinions of the religion.

The open-letter close on the heels of Paris attacks, which Tehran officially denounced and also condemned the subsequent publication of a caricature against the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), is intended to target a wider audience in the Western countries that is pro-academic and rests its judgment on intellectualism rather than hearsay. That is why the Iranian leader, who also loves to tweet and is a known face on social media despite his reclusive nature and orthodox clerical preoccupations, was categorical when he encouraged the Western youth to read the Holy Quran for themselves and dwell in impartial judgment. There couldn’t be any more easy and rational approach in furthering interfaith harmony than what was prescribed by Khamenei. This modus operandi is applicable to not only the non-Muslim youth — in order to understand Islam in a more open-minded manner — but also to wayward youngsters in the Muslim community who are turning berserk and joining extremist organisations.

The issue in the West is all about the flood of misinformation about Islam, and the way some vested groups and individuals had portrayed it in an attempt to achieve their nefarious objectives. So what the Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Taleban, Daesh or the like preach and practice is an anti-thesis of Islam. There, however, hasn’t been any dearth of leaders and reformers who believed in dialogue and worked for furthering inter-communal and inter-faith tolerance. The deceased Saudi monarch Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohammad, South African leader Nelson Mandela and Pope Francis are some of the icons who campaigned for harmony and understanding to achieve global tranquility. The need of the hour is to usher in a dialogue to achieve congeniality in heterogeneous societies.





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